Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Summer Reads 2012

I’m lining up two books to begin my summer holiday reading this year.

Since seeing Edmund de Waal on The Book Show I’ve been looking forward to reading his family history told through 264 objects, The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance. We follow these tiny wood and ivory carvings, called ‘netsuke’, on their journey from Odessa to Tokyo by way of fin de siecle Paris and occupied Vienna. A rich source of inspiration if ever there was.

The other title I’m keen to dive into is Peter Carey’s latest novel, The Chemistry of Tears, just out this week. The premise sounds fascinating: an automaton, a man and a woman who can never meet, and a secret love story. In London 2010, Catherine Gehrig deals with the death of her married lover by throwing herself into work on a special project. She discovers handwritten notebooks from the 19th century man who commissioned the automata she has been asked to bring back to life. Do either of these make your shortlist too?

Holiday Reads For Tabloid Tales

Wicked Whispers
by Jessica Callan
Revelations galore about the life of a celebrity journalist from one of the Mirror’s “3am girls”. A fun read full of gossip plus an insight into the workings of tabloids.

The Insider by Piers Morgan
A fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of not only journalism but also the worlds of politics, celebrity and royalty. His follow-ups are equally entertaining.

Spotlight On: Marilyn Monroe

Today would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 85th birthday. In honour of that, I’m sharing two of my favourite books about the actress. Barbara Leaming’s biography is a great introduction and a fascinating read, while Fragments gives fans the chance to read Marilyn’s own writing, from letters and notes to poems. She was a literature lover, and this collection revels in that.

Spotlight On: Joseph Cornell’s Influence

I first discovered Joseph Cornell’s work on a visit to MOMA in New York City in 2006. I was captivated by Taglioni’s Jewel Casket and my interest increased as I found out more about his assemblage art. Known for his boxes showcasing found objects, the twentieth-century American artist inspired many writers.

The Grand Hotels (of Joseph Cornell) by Robert Coover
Coover leads us through ten Grand Hotels, building into his “architectural portrait of the artist” biographical details alongside flights of fancy.

A Convergence of Birds ed. Jonathan Safran Foer
Foer invited writers, including Rick Moody and Joyce Carol Oates, to contribute to this collection of original fiction and poetry inspired by Cornell’s avian boxes.

To find out more about Cornell’s work, keep reading


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